NORTH West Hampshire MP Kit Malthouse hosted a packed meeting in Kingsclere to discuss the roll-out of high-speed broadband across the county.
Around 100 people attended the Friday February 3 meeting to hear from speakers including Patrick Blogg, assistant director of Hampshire County Council.
Other speakers were Stacey King and Grant Munn from BT and Joshua Burton, project director of Broadband Delivery UK, (BDUK) – the Government agency responsible for the broadband roll-out.
Mr Blogg revealed that the roll-out of superfast broadband (24 megabits per second) was on track for 95 per cent of the county by the end of 2017, with coverage expected to be completed by 2018.
Following the Government’s autumn statement pledging £1bn to broadband delivery and with grant funding available from BT, Mr Malthouse said it was possible for a small community to club together, then obtain match-funding of £1,650 per household towards superfast broadband.
In addition, a £150 ‘betterband’ voucher is available for each household that has broadband speeds of less than 2Mpbs.
Ms King and Mr Munn said any new housing development over 30 units would be entitled to free superfast broadband installation.
A grant of up to £20,000 is also being made available to Ofsted registered schools.
Chairman of Ashmansworth Parish Council, Alan Cox, said afterwards that villagers in the 83-household parish suffering low broadband speeds were looking instead at wireless solutions.
Kingsclere parish councillor Ian Bowes afterwards said 50 houses were to be built in Kingsclere, as outlined in a draft Neighbourhood Plan.
He said: “We could end up with plots smaller than 30 houses and there is no guarantee that BT will put in communications.”
After the meeting, Hampshire county councillor, Warwick Lovegrove (Lib Dem, Tadley and Baughurst) said many of his ward members were “suffering” by being unable to connect to superfast broadband.
Ramsdell villager and Tadley borough councillor Jonathan Richards (Con, Baughurst and Tadley North), afterwards said he lost his internet connection up to three times a day and that downloading large documents proved “a big time factor”.
For more details, visit www.communityfibre.bt.com, www.hants.gov.uk/ broadband, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter@superfasthants.